'Got that instinct' - England coach makes exciting prediction about Leeds United youngster
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Led by Under-19s manager and former Brighton and Hove Albion coach Simon Rusk, Perkins’ England side were unfortunate to miss out on this summer’s European Championships, despite winning two of their three Elite Round qualification matches. Iceland ultimately pipped the youngsters to the sole qualifying spot after beating England 1-0 in Rotherham last Saturday.
Following the Young Lions’ 2-0 win versus Turkey on Tuesday evening, Rusk spoke about his team’s disappointment, as well as Leeds youngster Perkins’ best attributes as a centre-forward whilst representing his country.
“Sonny has the most important attribute [for a striker]: he can score goals,” Rusk told the YEP.
"Any forward can smell a chance and Sonny's got that instinct, he's still working his game out which is normal, still growing into his body and understanding his movements and where chances might present themselves but Sonny's got a track record of scoring goals.
"I'm sure his game's only going to move forwards,” he added.
Perkins netted five times during September’s international break as England recorded three wins from three in their preliminary qualifying group. Although he did not add to his tally in March, Perkins finished joint-second in the top goalscorer standings, eclipsed by just three players across Europe, each with six goals.
"It's a killer format, really,” Rusk explained. “We were excellent in our first three games in September, beating a strong Denmark team, Georgia and Montenegro. Then, we deal with the first [Elite Round] game, a difficult game against Hungary and we had a slip against Iceland and I thought we were excellent tonight, but it's cost you.
"These guys that are learning their trade in an England shirt, I think what it can be is add some strong meaning and learn from it, that the margins are so fine, particularly at the top of the game, and you have to certainly be so conscious about doing every last little thing right.”
Fellow Leeds teen Darko Gyabi is the Under-19s’ captain and is expected to retain the armband if the Football Association organise friendlies in lieu of what would have been their participation at this year’s tournament.